The Cinematic Side of NYC
Each of these fun half-day itineraries captures the spirit and subculture of a favorite movie set in the Big Apple: "The Devil Wears Prada," "You've Got Mail," "West Side Story," "The Godfather," and "Working Girl."
After your meal, head a few blocks north to Court Pastry Shop, a standout on a street famed for its Sicilian bakeries and other food stores. Back in early 1900s, this area had one of the largest concentrations of Italians in the United States. Be sure to "take the cannoli," as gangster Peter Clemenza memorably instructs his men after a successful hit on a double-crossing associate.
Then stroll toward Carroll Park, wandering along quiet brownstone blocks; keep your eye out for statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints in many of the small front yards (Court and Henry Streets, from 1st Place to 4th Place, are particularly lovely). Settle into Brooklyn Social (335 Smith St.), a bar whose furnishing are holdovers from its days as a members-only, men-only Sicilian hangout, and order the Society Riposto (vodka, tangerine slices, and fresh rosemary)—named in honor of the original club. Some Brooklyn bars were indeed fronts for the mob, but most were little more than laid-back places for members to unwind over cards, a glass of wine, and lots of conversation. Now there's an offer that's hard to refuse.
Something extra: The Dicapo Opera Theatre, a small company that performs in the bottom level of a church on Manhattan's Upper East Side, mounts a mix of classic (Le Nozze di Figaro) and newly commissioned works (Sárka) from fall through spring. To keep that Godfather vibe going strong, seek out something dark and bloody. —John Rambow
On-screen: Night-school grad Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) has an intense work ethic, but with her Staten Island accent and hair-sprayed bangs, she can't climb beyond the secretarial level in the mergers-and-acquisitions world. When her new boss, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), seems to take her ideas seriously, Tess is thrilled—until she finds out Katharine is passing them off as her own. Indignant, Tess seizes the initiative and arranges a meeting with Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), an executive from another firm who can turn her idea into a business deal. One new do and one fancy wardrobe later, Tess and Jack are on the road to success in business—and love.
Starring you: There's nothing special about the office buildings where Tess spends her days, but there's a lot to see in the financial district, where she works. Pass bankers in power suits as you stroll down Wall Street, which has been pedestrian-only since 9/11, and stop near Broad Street to shake your fist at the New York Stock Exchange and its grand Corinthian columns.
Lunch with the moneyed set at Zaitzeffthe burgers are made with all-natural beef, the fries are hand-cut, and the cookies are fresh-baked. There's nothing wrong with the fancy half-pound Kobe beef burger ($15.50), but the standard sirloin is just as tasty, and cheaper too—something we're guessing those left on Wall Street appreciate more than ever (sirloin burger $8.75).
To dress like Tess (the upwardly mobile version—minus her 1980s shoulder pads, please), set aside a few hours to scour local department store Century 21, famous for selling high-end labels at rock-bottom prices.
Then walk your confident self a few blocks south to the Staten Island Ferry, which departs regularly from South Ferry Station. Commuters like Tess take the free 25-minute ride to work every day, but it's also a great way to see the city skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. Hop on about an hour before sunset. Grab a soft pretzel and a beer from the snack bar, find your sweet spot on the multi-decked vessel, and watch the show unfold—then hitch a ride on the next ferry back as darkness falls and Manhattan's skyscrapers light up.
Something extra: Trinity Church sits where Wall Street and Broadway meet. The Gothic-style 1846 building seems small amid the towering office buildings. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places; the original burial ground includes the grave of Alexander Hamilton. —Beth Collins